The Research Digest, October 2014, Issue Number 41

The Research Digest (previously known as the Monthly Digest) highlights new research in learning and teaching. This month, we are highlighting recent work on the use of classroom response systems. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or have any suggestions for us, please send an email to To access past issues of the Research Digest, visit the LTO website.

New research on the use of classroom response systems:

Active Learning in Higher Education, March 2014
Student Response Systems and Learner Engagement in Large Classes

Abstract: “The use of student response systems is becoming more prevalent in higher level education. Evidence on the effectiveness of this technology can be an important resource for tutors seeking to engage with learners and raise the quality of learning experiences. Student response systems have been found to increase student engagement and participation in the classroom, yet few studies examine why this is so. This research seeks to explore the effects of student response systems on student participation in large classes. The methods used included both quantitative and qualitative data. A pre-test/mid-test/post-test design (quantitative approach) was deployed to examine the effects of a classroom response system on interactivity. Students involved in a final year undergraduate business course took part in investigating the use of student response systems from the student perspective. Qualitative data were collected to identify the strengths and weaknesses of using a classroom response system to enhance classroom interaction through semi-structured interviews. This research builds on previous studies by investigating why students become more participatory, interactive and engaged during learning sessions which utilise student response systems. Implications for teaching practice are discussed, and avenues for future research on student response systems and student engagement in large class scenarios are outlined.”

Innovative Higher Education, 2013
Encouraging College Student Active Engagement in Learning: The Influence of Response Methods

Abstract: “The purpose of this study was to examine the use of two student response methods within selected college lecture halls. Kinesiology majors from three universities were asked to respond to questions during two consecutive lectures, one using “clickers” and the other using hand-raising. Participation and comprehension rates were statistically significantly different following the use of the different response methods. Participant survey responses revealed insight into student participation, question presentation, perceived cognitive engagement, and overall learning in traditional lecture settings using the response methods.”

International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 2013
Creating Discussions with Classroom Voting in Linear Algebra

Abstract: “We present a study of classroom voting in linear algebra, in which the instructors posed multiple-choice questions to the class and then allowed a few minutes for consideration and small-group discussion. After each student in the class voted on the correct answer using a classroom response system, a set of clickers, the instructor then guided a class-wide discussion of the results. We recorded the percentage of students voting for each option on each question used in 18 sections of linear algebra, taught by 10 instructors, at 8 institutions, over the course of 5 years, together recording the results of 781 votes on a collection of 311 questions. To find the questions most likely to provoke significant discussions, we identify the six questions for which votes were most broadly distributed. Here we present these questions, we discuss how we used them to advance student learning, and we discuss the common features of these questions, to identify why they were so good at stimulating discussions.”

Learning, Media and Technology, 2012
Perceptions of the Effects of Clicker Technology on Student Learning and Engagement: A Study of Freshmen Chemistry Students

Abstract: “This study investigated gender differences in science learning between two pedagogical approaches: traditional lecture and narrative case studies using personal response systems (“clickers”). Thirteen instructors of introductory biology classes at 12 different institutions across the USA and Canada used two types of pedagogy (Clicker Cases and traditional lecture) to teach eight topic areas. Three different sets of multiple regression analysis were conducted for three separate dependent variables: posttest score, change in score from posttest to final, and transfer score. Interactions between gender and pedagogical approach were found across the three analyses. Women either performed better with Clicker Cases, or about the same with either instructional method, but men performed markedly better with lectures in most topic areas. Our results suggest that men and women experience two pedagogical approaches–Clicker Cases and lectures–differently, and that Clicker Cases are more favorable for women than for men.”

Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 2012
Student Response Systems in the College Classroom: An Investigation of Short-Term, Intermediate, and Long-Term Recall of Facts

Abstract: “The effects of student response system (SRS) use during lecture-style instruction on short-term, intermediate, and long-term retention of facts was investigated in an undergraduate teacher preparation course. Participants were undergraduate students enrolled in a special education initial certification program. Student performance on quizzes and self-reports of engagement were compared between lectures given with and without the SRS. Findings regarding short-term recall were mixed, while performance on quiz questions testing intermediate and long-term recall were significantly improved with use of the SRS. Weekly self-reports showed no association between SRS and improved engagement in class sessions. However, at the conclusion of the class, students reported favorable opinions of the SRS and believed it helped improve their learning and attention in class. Implications for teaching and future research are discussed.”

International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 2012
Instructor Perceptions of Using a Mobile-Phone-Based Free Classroom Response System in First-Year Statistics Undergraduate Courses

Abstract: “Student engagement at first-year level is critical for student achievement, retention and success. One way of increasing student engagement is to use a classroom response system (CRS), the use of which has been associated with positive educational outcomes by fostering student engagement and by allowing immediate feedback to both students and instructors. Traditional CRS rely on special and often costly hardware (clickers), and often special software, requiring IT support. As a result, the costs of implementation and use may be substantial. This study explores the use of a low-cost CRS (VotApedia) from an instructor perspective. The use of VotApedia enabled first-year students to become anonymously engaged in a large-class environment by using their mobile phones to vote on multiple-choice questions posed by instructors during lectures. VotApedia was used at three Australian universities in first-year undergraduate statistics classes. The instructors in the study collected qualitative and quantitative data specifically related to interacting with the VotApedia interface, the in-class delivery, and instructor perceptions of student engagement. This article presents the instructors’ perceptions of the advantages and challenges of using VotApedia, the practicalities for consideration by potential adopters and recommendations for the future.”

Journal of Political Science Education, 2012
Is Class Appreciation Just a Click Away?: Using Student Response System Technology to Enhance Shy Students’ Introductory American Government Experience

Abstract: “Do individual-level student characteristics affect appreciation for, and benefit from, the use of student response system technology? We investigate the usefulness of in-class electronic student response systems (“classroom clickers”) to understand if it benefits some college students more than others. Specifically, we investigate whether shyer students benefit more from the use of the student response system, with the expectation that shyer students will appreciate using the system more and consequently make more positive gains in attitudes about the class, knowledge of politics, and political engagement. Utilizing original survey data collected from Fall 2009 and Fall 2010 introductory American Government courses, we find that shyer students show greater attitude improvement over the course of the semester, exhibit more knowledge about politics and engage in more outside-of-class political discussions than less shy students when electronic student response systems are utilized, but no such difference emerges when more traditional in-class feedback methods are used. Overall, the findings presented here suggest that, at least marginally, the use of in-class electronic response systems can improve the educational experience of students who are typically isolated by traditional classroom teaching methods.”

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